China building aircraft hangars on disputed islands in South China Sea, says US think tank

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Construction work on one of the reefs in the South China Sea. Photo: Centre for Strategic and International Studies

 

Satellite images show construction work on three reefs in the Spratly chain

China appears to be building reinforced aircraft hangars on reclaimed islands it controls in a disputed area of the South China Sea, according to a US think tank.

Satellite photographs taken in late July show the construction of hangars on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief Reefs in the Spratly chain of islands and some have already been completed, according to a report by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Although no military aircraft have been spotted, each of the three small islands will soon have enough hangar space for 24 fighter jets, plus three to four larger planes, the think tank said.

China has built up the three reefs to become the largest man-made land masses in the Spratlys, each with a runway more than 3,000 metres long.

The hangars, in three different sizes, could accommodate any planes used by China’s air force, the think tank said.

These include the J-11 and Su-30 fighters, H-6 bombers, the H-6U refuelling tanker and the air force’s largest aircraft the Y-20 and Il-76 transport planes.

All the hangars show signs of structural strengthening, the think tank said.

Except for a brief visit by a military transport plane to Fiery Cross Reef earlier this year, there is no evidence that Beijing has deployed military aircraft to these outposts,” the report said.

“But the rapid construction of reinforced hangars at all three features indicates that this is likely to change.”

Full article: China building aircraft hangars on disputed islands in South China Sea, says US think tank (South China Morning Post)

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